Inside Yoga 266 (23/4/2019)
Or, why children can remind us what timelessness feels like. It is simple, it is good for us, but we ignore it, we run roughshod over it, we carry on sure that where we are going is more important than where we are right now!
I am writing about being present and aware of what is happening right now, popularly called the present moment. It is very possible that we have heard this message numerous times, so much so that although we realise what it means we ignore it, and carrying on rushing forward not noticing the damage we are doing to our well-being.
And what have kids got to do with this? They can remind us of what it is to be present and enjoy or importantly witness the moment. Take for example, my weekend walk in the hills with my daughter and our dog. We have a favourite walk, which includes places to stop and play; a stream, a pond, woodland with dens to play in – it’s a child’s playground.
Yet, while I watch my daughter play in the stream unaware of time, completely absorbed in her game, which this time was to make a damn across a stream, I am caught up in conflicting emotions of both enjoying what we are doing and looking at the time because we must continue with the walk, thereby not really engaging in what are doing. I had to remind myself that we had plenty of time – why the rush? – and to get involved more fully with her and the fun.
This episode in daily life highlights something which is a continuous problem for most of us, or to put it another way, it is the underlying source of our lack of pleasure and enjoyment in our daily life yet we are not aware that it is our constant need to be elsewhere that spoils what is actually happening right now. If we are to solve this we first need to wake up and notice our habits and thoughts. Being aware is the first step, the second is to take action (and this includes thoughts and intention). In my case, I stopped thinking about getting anywhere, and played happily in the stream until a natural point was reached when it was time to move on – when her trousers were soaked seemed a good time!
Look at our yoga practice: how many times within one position do we think of the next posture we will do, and think when will we leave the present one, and in cases of a group class led by a teacher, how often are we waiting for the instruction to exit the posture? If this happens for you, you are not fully engaged in the posture nor are you practising correctly. The practice teaches us to be present, to be engaged in the exercise, without distraction, and if we do drift with thought, to refocus.
Yoga might be a way of getting something we seek in our life, for example, feeling healthier, or perhaps, the answer to the meaning of life? Whatever, we seek, while practising we need to apply ourselves in the posture and not let thoughts rise which will take us elsewhere, even if it is the answer to life! Breathe deeply and refocus on the yoga posture. We get an unwanted thought, something upsetting, while dwell, drop it, focus on the posture. Whatever seeks to distract us, we focus on the action of the posture: we remain present and aware. Notice, if thoughts are absent we will feel fine, even good, because when time stops everything is fine!
Like a child become absorbed in what you are doing. Yoga trains us in this way to be focussed and this extends to our daily life. Do not draw a line between the two; do not leave what the practice teaches you on the mat, use it in daily life… as this is the intention of practice. To redefine and balance our focus and intentions in this life, so we are present and aware in every moment, from the simple pleasure in life like paying with our children to the complex and challenging situations which work, life and family can throw at us.
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